Sunday, December 08, 2013


**Factors of Congress debacle - Foremost corruption, public's lack of trust in the UPA government, bar on  dynasty rule, Congress contrived cases via CBI on oppositoin and  protect tainted supporters / politicians
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Defence News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 8, 2013: Congress party's 0-4 mauling and BJP's triumph in three states in what was billed as the "semifinal" for the 2014 elections was the big headline, but the central takeaway on super Sunday was Aam Aadmi Party's stunning debut in Delhi, prising open space in national politics for an outsider.

Congress's debacle exposed its sliding popularity as well as Rahul Gandhi's failure to connect with the voters. It has also fortified the perception of Narendra Modi-led BJP being the frontrunner for 2014. For all practical purposes, the UPA government will now be a lame duck one.

The BJP won a three-fourth majority in Rajasthan, scored a two-third victory in Madhya Pradesh and beat back Congress in Chhattisgarh after a ding-dong battle. In Delhi, only AAP prevented BJP from a clear victory, but its tally of 31 still underscored its advantage over Congress which crumbled to a measly eight seats.

The clear man of the match was AAP's Arvind Kejriwal. He not only beat Sheila Dikshit by a margin of over 25,000 votes, his party fed off a deep disillusionment with the political class, boosting hopes of a new brand of politics, perhaps a desi version of the Arab Spring.

As a result, the spunky rookie subverted traditional assumptions about vote banks by drawing support from diverse socio-economic strata. AAP finished second to the BJP, but the victory of its greenhorn candidates over heavyweights belonging to Congress and BJP was reminiscent of the waves of 1977 and 1984, a feat that would encourage it to go beyond Delhi in 2014.

Predictably, there was a debate over how much the Modi factor impacted the BJP landslides in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and in Chhattisgarh. Party insiders insisted Modi was a strong force multiplier and that in Delhi, he helped it emerge as the single-largest party.

Whatever the case, the result can only add to Modi's aura and provide BJP tailwind as it heads for the LS challenge. The fact that Congress succumbed to incumbency and crashed to humiliating defeats in Rajasthan and Delhi whereas BJP held its own in MP and Chhattisgarh would be cited to argue that something beyond "local issues" was in play here.

Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi acknowledged the role of larger factors in Congress defeats. But they said Gehlot's and Dikshit's losses were baffling, given their good governance records.

Sonia spoke of inflation, one of the many issues that Modi will exploit in 2014 when he, with his tantalizing promise of a decisive leader and much-trumpeted Gujarat model of development, will be in the fray himself, seeking to tap into the same yearning for change which helped Kejriwal in Delhi.

Rahul Gandhi acknowledged that there was a lesson in AAP's dramatic debut and said "aggressive changes" would now be carried out in the Congress to "embed" the common man in Congress programmes.

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*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Defense News
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News 

DTN News - NORTH KOREA DEFENSE NEWS: Is North Korea’s Navy Finally Falling Apart?

DTN News - NORTH KOREA DEFENSE NEWS: Is North Korea’s Navy Finally Falling Apart?
*Two accidents in rapid succession suggest all is not well, but the country still has some significant assets
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources By Stefan Soesanto - The Diplomat
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - December 8, 2013: North Korea’s state news agency (KCNA) and South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo reported on November 4 that two North Korean ships sank only a few days apart in mid-October during military drills in the East Sea. With KCNA releasing several photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un visiting the newly erected gravestones for the approximately 15-30 perished sailors, the two naval accidents have become a political tool in Pyongyang’s domestic power games. While it is extremely rare for the state media to report on North Korean military accidents, the two separate incidents do beg the question: Is the DPRK’s navy finally falling apart?
Media reports have so far identified the two sunken ships as the 60-meter long, 375-ton Hainan-class Submarine Chaser No. 233, and an undisclosed 100 to 200-ton North Korean patrol boat.

The Hainan-class is a Chinese-built anti-submarine warfare vessel. Some 126 of these boats were assembled from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. According to IHS Jane’s, 26 of these vessels were fitted for export to countries like Bangladesh, Egypt, Myanmar, Pakistan and North Korea. Pyongyang received its Hainan delivery in three shipments during 1975 to 1978. While the Hainan was primarily conceptualized for coastal anti-submarine warfare, its operational range also includes scouting, mine-laying, and coastal rescue missions. Prior to the incident in October, the North Korean navy maintained six Hainan vessels, as reported in the IISS Military Balance 2013.
But although KCNA clearly named the Submarine Chaser No. 233 as the vessel that sank in the East Sea, the South Korean military classification of a Hainan-class does not seem to be correct. According to IHS Jane’s fleet list there is no North Korean Hainan-class with the designated Number 233, nor does it seem likely that a Chinese-built vessel would defy the DPRKs geopolitical challenge and end up operating off its distant East Coast. Whether South Korea’s military intelligence or outside naval experts will be able to clarify these discrepancies remains to be seen.
The second undisclosed 100 to 200-ton patrol boat falls into a wider range of categories of North Korean military vessels. Three possible patrol boat types would fit the media description. The 130-ton Chinese-built Shanghai II, which was transferred to North Korea from 1967-1975; the 150-ton Chong-Ju-class, which was put into service somewhere during the 1990s; and the 190-ton modified Russian-model SO-1, which was assembled starting in 1957, and became infamous as the main vessel involved in the capture of the USS Puebloin 1968. From here, it is pure speculation which model would be more prone to malfunctions that could sink it. However, the best guess would be the SO-1, given its advanced age and the fact that this vessel-type is primarily deployed on North Korea’s East Coast.
Most of the DPRK’s 700-800 strong green-water fleet is on average 30 to 50 years of age and does not operate more than 50 miles offshore. With seas on both sides and no chance of exchanging vessels between its Eastern and Western fleet, Pyongyang is forced to allocate scarce resources in a long-term and strategic manner to guarantee the operational readiness of both fleets.
North Korean patrol boats have been mostly involved in skirmishes surrounding the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the still-disputed maritime border between the two Koreas in the West Sea. Conditions in the West are ideal for North Korea’s small, fast and agile patrol boats, given the rugged coastal line and shallow waters. Conditions in the East, however, are much more favorable for North Korea’s large submarine fleet, which on numerous occasions during the 1990s conducted regular infiltration operations into the South, such as the infamous 1996 Gangneung and 1998 Sokcho incidents.
From the limited media information available the most feasible explanation for the two naval accidents in the East Sea is a lack of strategic prioritization and funding from Pyongyang to properly maintain its underused patrol boats in the East. If Pyongyang has truly been pressed to make this military trade-off, it will reflect the naval strategies employed by other East Asian countries when it comes to choosing between naval assets covering territorial disputes and those responsible for military warfare. While the former – essentially patrol boats – focus on policing and constabulary, the latter are geared towards eliminating enemy combatants and conducting clandestine naval operations, which in North Korea’s case is the job of its submarine force. In short, patrol boats are not made to take the fight to the enemy, but merely to safeguard and protect coastal lines, which the territorial dispute makes more challenging off North Korea’s western coast, despite the easier waters.
But despite the two naval accidents in quick succession and a possible change in naval strategy to accommodate resource constraints, there is little evidence to suggest that the North Korean navy is in rapid decline. Surely it will lose more vessels if they are highly stressed in military exercises or forced into outright combat missions. North Korean patrol boats in particular are highly unsuitable for active frontline duty, and in most skirmishes with South Korean naval forces they have invariably ended up either on fire, highly damaged or at the bottom of the sea.
North Korean submarines are, however, an entirely different story, as evidenced by the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan corvette in early 2010. According to IHS Jane’s, the DPRK maintains around 40 mid-size Sang-O-class submarines built between 1995 and 2003, and some 20 large Romeo-class vessels which were built between 1976 and 1995. Additionally, Pyongyang has been churning out midget submarines of the Yono-class since the 1990s, and has some 20 outdated midget Yugo-submarines in reserve. All in all, the numbers for North Korea’s relatively modern submarine fleet vary between 70 and 90 vessels, making it the largest submarine fleet in the world.
But being the smallest branch within the vast North Korean armed forces (with 1.2 million personnel) naturally imposes its own budget constraints at a time when the upper echelons in Pyongyang are focusing on ballistic missile programs, nuclear enrichment, the expansion of the Special Forces, and enhancements to frontline artillery. But to discount North Korea’s navy due to the loss of two insignificant patrol boats would be the wrong lesson to take away here.
While the DPRK’s navy may well still be seaworthy, these latest two incidents could press Pyongyang to modernize its naval force at the expense of other programs. Especially when looking to the South, which is already determined to establish itself as a naval power with its three billion-dollar Aegis destroyers and plans to build three more, the two accidents and Kim Jong-Un’s subsequent visit to the graves of the fallen sailors may end up being the first step in an asymmetric challenge to South Korea’s naval ambitions.
Stefan Soesanto is a non-resident James A. Kelly Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS.
*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources By Stefan Soesanto - The Diplomat
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
*Photograph: IPF (International Pool of Friends) + DTN News / otherwise source stated
*This article is being posted from Toronto, Canada By DTN News ~ Defense-Technology News